On an unusually mild late November evening in Elora, ON, we made our way to the Elora Brewery Co. for the final leg of our “3 concerts in 3 nights” weekend. This particular show was a last minute addition to our itinerary, and featured the 6-piece Montreal act Groenland, and the 5-piece local band Lowlands. Both bands were supporting the release of their new albums, and were welcomed by a pretty decent crowd that filled out both floors of the brewery.
Arriving early, we were incredibly fortunate to find two vacant bar stools directly adjacent to the stage. As our friendly bartender poured me my first taste of “Three Fields” (unfiltered triple grain) lager, Groenland took to the small, intimate stage for their soundcheck, giving us a taste (non-beer) of what we could expect to hear later that night.
With their unique mix of indie-electronic folk and traditional string arrangements, Groenland returned to the stage later that evening and played an even mix of tracks from their debut album “The Chase” and the recently released “A Wider Space.” Lead vocalist Sabrina Halde is truly blessed with a vocal range that pairs perfectly with the slower, somber string pieces and the up-tempo electronic-rock tunes. Popular tracks from “The Chase” were performed, including “Our Last Shot,” “Superhero,” and the title track, along with newer material such as “Nothing Personal,” “Distractions,” and “A Wider Space.” The two tracks that stood out for me especially were “Criminals” (how can you not chant along with the ‘ah ah ah ah’s?) and “Cabin,” which gave Ariane Gruet-Pelchat and Gabrielle Girard-Charest the opportunity to demonstrate their collaborative violin and cello work.
Our first experience of live music from Groenland has left us thirsty for more (music, no more beer right now), and all six members of the band were kind enough to chat with us and write appreciative notes on our copy of the new CD. We are especially grateful to bass player Simon Gosselin for spending time with us to discuss music and chat about the Quebecois music scene that we particularly like.
As Guelph’s Lowlands finished setting up their stage, the crowd at the Elora Brewery eagerly awaited the beginning of Gordon Auld and his bandmates’ set. With a dark blend of alternative delta blues-rock, Lowlands would introduce us to a sound best described as southern rootsy Americana with a quintessentially southern Ontario persona. It was certainly refreshing and encouraging to see a younger band like this not only adopt a traditional blues sound, but to add the timeless sounds of pedal steel and banjo into their repertoire.
From their recently released “Erie” album, Lowlands would perform a selection of cuts that included “High Mountain,” “Broken Man,” and “Wind Blows Back.” The current single “Run” was certainly well received, given the airplay on Canadian indie stations right now. Also added to the set list were crowd favorites from their debut album “Huron,” especially “Black Mask Parts I and II” and “Wonderful Hearts,” which closed the set (although Gordon would return for a solo acoustic piece to send the crowd home).
Groenland and Lowlands not only finished their sets at the Elora Brewing Co, but also on their current “album release” tours. One thing for certain is that we are left craving for more from both bands, and welcome the opportunity to see them again next time our paths cross. Two completely different bands, but two uniquely great sounds and material. Both are highly recommended for your listening pleasures.